South America Semester
Ecuador and Peru
Community. Service. Connection
I worked in the Amazon cutting down banana trees, ate Colombian street food, danced on rooftops with new (now lifetime) friends, learned Spanish well enough to be able to develop relationships entirely in another language, adopted the practice of Yoga into my daily life (and have never felt better...), participated in traditional, Amazonian medicine ceremonies and learned to cook incredible vegetarian food... and, in the process, I have gained more confidence and clarity than I could have ever imagined.
I have truly seen some of the most beautiful things of my life within the first month [in Ecuador] and can only imagine what’s in store for the next two. Everyday we grow as a group, meet interesting new people, and of course get to practice our Spanish. So many times all I can do is just stand, observe, and smile and hope that you’re getting my thank yous that I have been sending telepathically. Thanks again for making this the experience of a lifetime!
I don't know how to sum up my experience in just a couple words. Carpe took me to the most beautiful places I have ever seen, allowed me to meet the most interesting people I have ever met and gave me the opportunity to do awesome things and help awesome people. All I know is that this last year was an incredible journey and I wouldn't be the same person I am today if I didn't choose to go this adventure with Carpe Diem.
Re-set your compass for Carpe Diem Education’s South America Semester. It’s designed for those who want to explore a multi-faceted part of the world rich in history and tradition.
Our itinerary combines cross-cultural exploration with Spanish language study, outdoor adventure, service-learning, and downtime for contemplation—and throughout, the opportunity to experience and learn about new ways of living.
Your journey takes you from the vibrant, modern city of Quito to the Amazonian rain forest to ancient Incan site of Machu Picchu. Along the way, you’ll immerse yourself in the Spanish language while while exploring and learning about richly diverse cultures and histories, and building meaningful relationships with welcoming host families, partner organizations, and your fellow group members.
Throughout your travels, you’ll supplement your studies in sustainability and environmental conservation through service-learning projects such as conservation projects in the Amazon rainforest, organic farming in Ecuador, and helping with community development projects in local communities. You’ll also have a reflective retreat in Peru’s Sacred Valley, where you’ll learn new ways to relax and recharge as you prepare for the next leg of your journey.
Practice independent travel-skills that will serve you well in the future over the course of this three-month adventure. Discovering new ideas about yourself and the world around you, you’ll learn new, life-enriching perspectives through experiential education, community and intercultural exchange.
- The first three days of your semester will be spend in a comfy backpacker hostel in Quito. Quito offers a wonderful introduction to Ecuador, with opportunities to visit the equator line, visit the UNESCO cultural sites in the old city, and taste your first bites of South America cuisine. You’ll learn more about the program, your fellow group mates, and set intentions for the semester ahead. You’ll learn also learn strategies for staying safe and healthy while traveling.
Traveling to the coast of Ecuador, the group will live on a small banana farm, learning about coastal agriculture while studying Spanish. The group will all live together, along with their language teachers and the family who runs the farm, and practice Spanish while enjoying rural life.
A lovely town in the central Valley of Ecuador, Baños is known for the hot springs for which the town is named. Here you’ll live with a host family, spend the morning studying Spanish, and the afternoon volunteering with an after school program. You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in activities like traditional cooking or salsa classes and explore the natural local environment.
The group will spend a week in the modern and livable city of Arequipa. Here, you’ll live with host families, and spend the week studying Spanish and volunteering. Past groups have volunteered at a home for girls, working on painting projects, teaching English or arts, or helping the girls with homework. Volunteer activities vary according to the needs of the organizations at the time with are there. In our free time, we’ll have opportunities to explore the city and visit small neighboring communities – perhaps planning a trip to the beach or the canyons on the weekend!
Spend a week in the ancient Incan city of Ollantaytambo. Located in the Scared Valley outside of Cusco, Ollantaytambo is a beautiful small town, with narrow cobblestone streets, canals, and spectacular Incan ruins. Spend a week living with host families and continuing your study of Spanish. Past groups have had the opportunity to volunteer with the local school while here.
STUDIES IN SUSTAINABILITY
- Spend a week in a small town in the Intag region of Ecuador, where you’ll learn the principles of sustainable farming and living, as well as the importance of ecotourism and fair trade. We work with an NGO that is focused on community development and starting to teach the local population about the benefits of organic farming. In this beautiful region, you’ll experience small town life while also learning about some of the larger environmental issues that Ecuador is facing.
STUDENT DIRECTED TRAVEL
- A unique opportunity for the group to work together to design, plan, budget, and implement their own itinerary. Traveling together, the group will arrange transportation, accommodation, and activities – what will the group decide?
Animals in the Ecuadorian Amazon are at risk of losing habitat due to deforstation, or being injured or orphaned by poachers. Help with wildlife conservation by volunteering with an organization that is working to rehabilitate and improve the lives of monkeys, birds, turtles, coatis, and other animal that have been impacted by changing environments, climates, and human behaviors.
Travel to a small community in the Amazon and partner with a local NGO working on rainforest conservation. To get here, we’ll travel to Tena, Ecuador, and then have the opportunity to boat down the Arajuno River to reach our home for the week. Our work might include helping with reforestation projects, erosion control, or river turtle conservation, while learning about ways to live sustainably in this uniquely beautiful and remote environment.
Machu Picchu Trek
For the grand finale of our semester, the group will spend 5 days trekking through the remote villages and breathtaking landscapes of the Sacred Valley, summiting the mountain passes of the Andes to the phenomenal ancient Incan City. Upon arriving to Machu Picchu, you’ll spend the day exploring the ruins and learning about this ancient civilization. Return to Cuzco after the trek to celebrate all the successes of the semester before returning to the US.
- The group will head to the Sacred Valley, a beautiful area for retreat. The group will have some downtime here to reflect and integrate all that we’ve learned from each other, our travels, and the communities we’ve been a part of. This is an opportunity to try yoga and meditation, and give some attention to our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Accepting Applications For:
SPRING 2017 February 15 – May 10*
FALL 2017 September 13 – December 6*
SPRING 2018 February 14 – May 9*
*Dates may fluctuate depending on flight times and availability.
Not sure what to do after your semester? Check out our Latitudes program to do a focused volunteer placement for your second semester! CLICK HERE
A maximum of 12 Students & 2 Overseas Educators
Ages 17 and Up
COLLEGE CREDIT & FINANCIAL AID
Earn up to 18 credits through our partnership with Portland State University.
Learn more on our College Credit page.
Carpe Diem students can access Financial Aid.
Learn more on our Financial Aid page.
Program tuition includes all food, accommodations, scheduled program activities, and international travel insurance for the duration of the program. International airfare and spending money are extra. International airfare estimated at $1400 – $1600.